Tag Archives: Beyonce

Gift Guide 2017: Petrucelli Picks the Best Celebrity Bios of the Year (Part One)

On the morning of January 15, 1947, the bisected body of aspiring Hollywood actress Elizabeth Short was discovered on the sidewalk of a vacant L.A. lot, and at first it was mistaken for a mannequin. The gruesome chance sighting ignited one of the most sensational and flawed manhunts in the history of American criminal justice. Seventy years after the most notorious unsolved murder in American history, Black Dahlia, Red Rose: The Crime, Corruption, and Cover-Up of America’s Greatest Unsolved Murder (Liveright, $26.95) uncovers tantalizing evidence to raise fresh theories about the culprit.  Pulling from recently unredacted FBI and LAPD files, author Piu Eatwell goes further than any previous investigator, untangling the web of secrets and rampant corruption that clouded the Black Dahlia case for decades. The murder became infamous for the frightful description of Short’s severed body and for the confounding clinical way it seemed to have been carried out, pointing to a killer experienced with a knife. Image result for black dahlia deathAfter the corpse was identified as a young beauty with jet-black hair and a rose tattoo, she became instant tabloid fodder. Christened by the press as “The Black Dahlia,” an exotic flower both toxic and intoxicating, Short became a potent symbol of the dark side of Hollywood and a warning to young women about the fatal snares of glamour, adventure, and female sexuality. In an all-too-familiar transformation, Eatwell recounts the swift transition of Elizabeth Short, New England ingénue, to transient temptress violated by a delinquent man (or lustful lesbian lover). This is the best book of the year: What sets Eatwell’s account apart from the many speculative histories, fictional retellings, movies and TV documentaries, is her gripping re-creation of the period through letters, memoirs, newspaper accounts and other evidentiary documents. So who killed Liz? Read and savor!

The second best book of the year: The Way It Was: My Life With Frank Sinatra (Hachette Books, $27). I loved it because I grew up during the years of the Westchester Premier Theater, where I saw all the greats, giving flowers and getting autographs. And we all knew it was run by the Mafia. That’s just part of Eliot Weisman’s candid memoir (he also was thisclose to Liza and Steve and Eydie); the memoir takes an inside look at the final decades of Frank Sinatra’s life. Frankie invited Weisman into his inner circle, an honor that the budding celebrity manager never took for granted. Even when he was caught up in a legal net designed to snare Sinatra, Weisman went to prison rather than being coerced into telling prosecutors what they wanted to hear. With Weisman’s help, Sinatra orchestrated in his final decades some of the most memorable moments of his career. There was the Duets album, which was Sinatra’s top seller, the massive tours, such as Together Again, which featured a short-lived reunion of the Rat Pack—until Dean Martin, having little interest in reliving the glory days, couldn’t handle it anymore—and the Ultimate Event Tour, which brought Liza and Sammy Davis Jr. on board and refreshed the much-needed lining of both their pocketbooks.  Ultimately Weisman, who had become the executor of Sinatra’s estate, was left alone to navigate the infighting and hatred between those born to the name and the wife who acquired it, when a mystery woman showed up and threatened to throw the family’s future into jeopardy. Great fearless stuff!

Vanda Krefft’s The Man Who Made the Movies: The Meteoric Rise and Tragic Fall of William Fox (Harper, $40) is the first definitive biography of William Fox: The fascinating, flawed, and brilliant man who risked everything to realize his bold dream of a Hollywood empire. It took her 10 years to research and write this compelling, well-researched massive tome that has it all: Ambition, genius, vision, glamour, greed, fortune and misfortune unfolding at the dawn of modern America. This is a landmark in film history . . . and the photos have never been seen before!

With his bestselling biography Jack Kennedy, Chris Matthews shared a new look of one of America’s most beloved Presidents and the patriotic spirit that defined him. Now, with Bobby Kennedy: The Raging Spirit (Simon & Schuster, $28.99), Matthews returns with a gripping, in-depth, behind-the-scenes portrait of one of the great figures of the American twentieth century. Bobby kennedy 9781501111860 hrDrawing on extensive research and interviews, Matthews pulls back the curtain on the public and private worlds of Robert Francis Kennedy. He shines a light on all the important moments of his life, from his early years and his start in politics to his crucial role as attorney general in his brother’s administration and his tragic run for president.

If you ask “who?” when we urge Head of Drama: The Memoir of Sydney Newman (ECW Press, $22.95) you will learn that this is the autobiography of the creator of Doctor Who . . . as well as a legend in British and Canadian TV and film.  For the first time, his comprehensive memoirs—written in the years before his death in 1997—are being made public. At the BBC, overseeing a staff of 400, Newman developed a science fiction show that flourishes to this day: Doctor Who. Providing further context to Newman’s memoir is an in-depth biographical essay by Graeme Burk, which positions Newman’s legacy in the history of television, and an afterword by one of Sydney’s daughters, Deirdre Newman.

Cher. Liza. Bette. Beyoncé also needs only a one-word introduction. She is a singer, an artist, an activist, a mom and an icon. In the first bio-graphic book of its kind, Beyoncegraphica  (Aurum Press, $29.99), her genius is explored like never before, with fun, informative infographics looking at the highlights and successes of her career–from costume changes to record sales, http://cloud.firebrandtech.com/api/v2/img/111/9781781316511/Mher impressive vocal range to her work off-stage, as well as including the all-important breakdown of some of her most popular dance routines. Beyoncé’s astonishing accomplishments are showcased against fellow legends of the industry in addition to celebrating her achievements in her own right.

Henry Fonda and James Stewart were two of the biggest stars in Hollywood for 40 years. They became friends and then roommates as stage actors in New York, and when they began making films in Hollywood, they roomed together again. What a wonderful life. They got along famously, with a shared interest in elaborate practical jokes and model airplanes, among other things. For Hank and Jim: The Fifty-Year Friendship of Henry Fonda and James Stewart (Simon & Schuster, $29),  Scott Eyman spoke with Fonda’s widow and children as well as three of Stewart’s children, plus actors and directors who had worked with the men—in addition to doing extensive archival research to get the full details of their time together. This is not another Hollywood story, but a fascinating portrait of an extraordinary friendship that lasted through war, marriages, children, careers and everything else.

Miss D and Me: Life with the Invincible Bette Davis (Hachette Books, $27) is a story of two powerful women, one at the end of her life and the other at the beginning. As Bette Davis aged she was looking for an assistant, but she found something more than that in Kathryn Sermak: A loyal and loving buddy, a co-conspirator in her jokes and schemes, and a competent assistant whom she trained never to miss a detail. But Miss D had strict rules for Kathryn about everything from how to eat a salad to how to wear her hair . . . even the spelling of Kathryn’s name was changed (adding the “y”) per Miss D’s request. Throughout their time together, the two grew incredibly close, and Kathryn had a front-row seat to the larger-than-life Davis’s career renaissance in her later years, as well as to the humiliating public betrayal that nearly killed Miss D. A fun read.

Rolling Stone writer Anthony DeCurtis, who knew Lou Reed and interviewed him extensively, tells the provocative story of his complex and chameleonic life in Lou Reed: A Life (Little, Brown and Company, $32). With unparalleled access to dozens of Reed’s friends, family and collaborators, DeCurtis tracks Reed’s five-decade career through the accounts of those who knew him and through Reed’s most revealing testimony, his music. LOU-REED-A-BIOGRAPHY-ANTHONY-DECURTIS-FIRST-EDITION-2017-BRAND-NEW-NEVER-READWe travel deep into his defiantly subterranean world, enter the studio as the Velvet Underground record their groundbreaking work, and revel in Reed’s relationships with such legendary figures as Andy Warhol, David Bowie, and Laurie Anderson. Gritty, intimate, and unflinching, Lou Reed is an illuminating tribute to one of the most incendiary artists of our time.

The cyclone of stories ABC News chief meteorologist Ginger Zee relates in Natural Disaster: I Cover Them. I am One. (Kingswell, $26.99) is for all the mistake makers who have learned to forgive others and themselves-even in the aftermath of man-made, or in this case Zee-made, disasters. Ginger also opens up about her lifelong battle with crippling depression, her romances that range from misguided to dangerous and her tumultuous professional path. She’s shattered the glass ceiling for women in meteorology, but admits here first, she’s the one natural disaster she couldn’t have forecast.

At a moment of crisis over our national identity, venerated journalist Dan Rather has emerged as a voice of reason and integrity, reflecting on—and writing passionately about—what it means to be an American. Now, with What Unites Us (Algonquin Books , $22.95), he reminds us of the principles upon which the United States was founded. Looking at the freedoms that define us, from the vote to the press; the values that have transformed us, from empathy to inclusion to service; the institutions that sustain us, such as public education; and the traits that helped form our young country, such as the audacity to take on daunting challenges in science and medicine, Rather brings to bear his decades of experience on the frontlines of the world’s biggest stories. As a living witness to historical change, he offers up an intimate view of history, tracing where we have been in order to help us chart a way forward and heal our bitter divisions. With a fundamental sense of hope, What Unites Us is the book to inspire conversation and listening, and to remind us all how we are, finally, one.

 

With his trademark acerbic wit, incisive humor, and infectious paranoia, Dick Gregory, one of our foremost comedians and most politically engaged civil rights activists, looks back at 100 key events from the complicated history of black America. In this collection of thoughtful, provocative essays, he charts the complex and often obscured history of the African American experience. In his unapologetically candid voice, he moves from African ancestry and surviving the Middle Passage to the creation of the Jheri Curl; the enjoyment of bacon and everything pig; the headline-making shootings of black men; and the Black Lives Matter movement. A captivating journey through time, Defining Moments in Black History explores historical movements such as The Great Migration and the Harlem Renaissance, as well as cultural touchstones such as Sidney Poitier winning the Best Actor Oscar for Lilies in the Field and Billie Holiday releasing Strange Fruit. An engaging look at black life that offers insightful commentary on the intricate history of the African American people, Defining Moments in Black History is an essential, no-holds-bar history lesson that will provoke, enlighten, and entertain.

 

Holiday Gift Guide 2016: The Year’s Best Shows, Specials and Documentaries from PBS

We have praised the DVDs releases from PBS Distribution, Lionsgate and Public Media Distribution for years, and this time we offer a wide selection of some of their best releases from 2016 that make super gift choices. Educate and entertain yourself with specials, documentaries and specials that r\demand a place in your library and a place close to the “play again” button! In no particular order we offer. . .

Spillover-Zika, Ebola & Beyond takes us around the globe, where viruses are on the march: Zika, Ebola, Nipah, Chikungunya, Dengue and West Nile. All of these viruses reside in animals and have the potential to “spillover” and infect humans. What’s behind the rise in spillover viruses? Are the United States and the world prepared to anticipate, contain and prevent the next outbreak? The program traces the spread of viruses and reveals strategies to prevent devastating outbreaks. The program features scientists across Africa, Asia, North America and South America who are searching for ways to combat these dangerous diseases.
The program mixes stunning graphics and compelling personal stories to provide much-needed scientific context for the current Zika crisis, the devastating Ebola pandemic and recent Nipah outbreaks. Viewers encounter the new frontiers of disease detection, prevention and containment as they travel the world with virus hunters, whose mission is to identify, track and ultimately control dangerous pathogens. Interspersed throughout the documentary are in-depth interviews with a range of leading researchers, epidemiologists, doctors and public healthcare experts, who shed light on how human behaviors increase spillover events, how science is learning to anticipate and tame spillover events and how the global community must pull together to face the public health threat.

Public Media Distribution’s Black America Since MLK: And I Still Rise, the series hosted, executive produced and written by Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. In the program Gates looks at the last 50 years of African American history—from Dr. King to Barack Obama, from James Brown’s “I’m Black and I’m Proud” to Beyoncé’s “Formation”—charting the remarkable progress black people have made and raising hard questions about the obstacles that remain. The series begins at a point in history when the story we tell about ourselves as Americans becomes complicated. Almost every schoolchild today learns about the civil rights movement—about how our nation moved itself forward, against the will of many, out of a shameful past. Yet what has happened since?  From here, the series steps out of the sanctified past and into the complex, raw, conflicted present. Today, Barack Obama sits in the White House and African Americans wield influence in every domain, from business to academia to the arts.

From left are Black Panther members, 2nd Lieutenant James Pelser, Capt. Jerry James, 1st Lieutenant Greg Criner and 1st Lieutenant Robert Reynolds, shown Feb. 20, 1969 in New Brunswick, NJ. (AP Photo/John Rooney)

At the same time, black people are incarcerated at six times the rate of white people, and due to financial inequality white people now have 13 times the wealth of black people. Many of our schools and neighborhoods are more segregated than they were in 1965, and police killings of unarmed black men in places like Ferguson, Baltimore and Baton Rouge recur with tragic frequency—inspiring radically different responses within black and white communities. How did we end up here, when half a century ago racial equality seemed imminent—even inevitable?

The program begins in 1965, in the wake of Malcolm X’s assassination and the passage of the Voting Rights Act, which was followed five days later by an incendiary explosion of black rage: the Watts riots. It moves on to explore the burgeoning Black Power movement which took much of America (including many old-school black leaders) by surprise, telling stories of Stokely Carmichael, the Black Panthers and cultural icons like James Brown alongside an exploration of the cultural trends that expressed black pride—from Afros and dashikis to Soul Train. The series continues, charting a wave of new opportunities and new consciousness that would lift African Americans to undreamed-of heights—in Ivy League schools, major corporations, the Supreme Court and even the White House.

Cook’s Country Explores: All-American Recipes: Season 9  features the best regional home cooking in the country and relies on a practical, no-nonsense food approach where family-friendly recipes are scientifically re-imagined for the modern home cook. Join the experts from America’s Test Kitchen as they uncover blue-ribbon regional specialties from across the country, and classic fare in need of a makeover. And as always, find out which cookware, kitchen tools, and supermarket foods are worth the dough, and learn more about the history of American food. Cook’s Country: Season 9 also includes tips and techniques, food tastings, equipment tests and printable versions of all 31 recipes.

Our ancient human ancestors once lived as tiny bands of hunter-gatherers scattered across the vast continent of Africa. Numbering no more than a few thousand, small groups of these intrepid humans began to move out of Africa—eventually reaching every corner of the earth. How did these early humans overcome the world’s most difficult terrain and ultimately dominate the planet? How did our prehistoric forebears acquire the skills, technology and talent to thrive in every environment on earth? How did they cross the furnace of the Sahara survive frigid ice ages or manage to sail to the remotest Pacific islands? The program takes viewers on a spectacular global journey through the past, following our ancestors’ footsteps out of Africa along a trail of fresh scientific clues to help unravel the mystery of how we got where we are. Profound answers are to be found NOVA: GREAT HUMAN ODYSSEY.

Our species has the unique ability to live almost anywhere, in any climate and any terrain. NOVA crisscrosses the world to examine why and how Homo sapiens has spread everywhere—from the far corners of Africa to the Siberian Arctic to the Pacific Islands and the Americas and beyond. The program features interviews with leading historians, anthropologists, archaeologists and geneticists, opening a door to a world of fascinating new discoveries about the origins of us. With unique glimpses of today’s Kalahari hunters, Siberian reindeer herders and Polynesian navigators, NOVA unveils the amazing skills in these traditional hunter-gatherer communities that hint at how our ancestors may have survived and prospered long ago.

Throughout the program, NOVA follows anthropologist Dr. Niobe Thompson as he travels the globe, searching for echoes of the past in the skills of people living in remote and demanding environments—conditions that may be similar to the ones our ancestors had to surmount on their global journey. For decades, anthropologists have been observing such societies trying to understand their social, cultural and spiritual beliefs, and how they live their day-to-day lives—from the food they eat to the natural medicines they use.

Charlie Hebdo. Paris. Brussels. Since January of 2015, a wave of attacks by terrorists linked to Al Qaeda and ISIS has overwhelmed Europe, killing nearly 200 people and injuring hundreds more. Could those attacks have been prevented? And why does Europe remain so vulnerable to the terrorism threat? The program tells the inside story of the missteps and systemic breakdowns that allowed known terrorists to strike in the heart of Europe, the problems that persist today, and the unprecedented threat the continent now faces.

In unusually candid interviews, counter-terrorsim veterans tell ProPublica senior reporter Sebastian Rotella how the attackers escaped detection, and how European countries have failed to put in place effective intelligence sharing and border enforcement — such as procedures for tracking air travelers that became standard in the United States after the 9/11 attacks.

The program reveals stunning details of many missed chances in the run-up to the attacks. It tells the story of how previously convicted terrorists who attacked Charlie Hebdo were able to hatch the plot with al Qaeda in Yemen—and of the decision to end surveillance on them. It details how more than a dozen Paris and Brussels attackers shuttled across Europe and back and forth to Syria, crossing borders and fending off police repeatedly—even though most of them were wanted or on watch lists.

Neither pestilence, starvation, nor betrayal can stop Ross Poldark from fighting for justice in his native Cornwall. Aidan Turner returns as the ex-officer, class warrior, lover and mining entrepreneur, called by The New York Times “the noblest, hottest, most down-to-earth hero.”

Also back is co-star Eleanor Tomlinson, playing Demelza, the miner’s daughter who is Ross’ equal in passion, wit, and daring—which is, of course, why they marry. Catch up with the adventures in Poldark Season 2.

New this season—or thrust into prominence from last—are Gabriella Wilde as Caroline Penvenen, a flirtatious young heiress under the watchful eye of her rich uncle, Ray, played by John Nettles; Luke Norrisas earnest young doctor Dwight Enys, who only has time for his patients nd for Caroline; and Henry Garrett as Captain McNeil, Ross’ old comrade from the war, now hunting smugglers and an opportunity to woo a certain married lady.

Viewers of the first season will recall that Ross shocks his relatives and neighbors when he shows up from America, since all had presumed him dead. Then he sets about upending their lives—threatening the copper mining interests of his uncle and cousin, Charles and Francis Poldark, and the rival operation of upstart George Warleggan. He is also ensnared in a romantic web that connects him, Francis, and George to the beautiful Elizabeth. Nevertheless, Ross happily marries Demelza and they have a daughter. But in the final episode of Season 1, an epidemic takes the child away, and a shipwreck and drowning are blamed on Ross.

So at the start of Poldark Season 2, Ross stands accused of murder and “wrecking”—luring a cargo ship to the rocks for plunder. It’s a capital offense, the judge is unsympathetic, hostile witnesses have been bribed and Ross appears headed for the gallows. It’s just the first in a string of suspenseful episodes every bit as precipitous as the steep cliffs of Cornwall.

Cats are one of the most diverse and studied mammals in the world, yet only now is their real identity being understood. Evolutionary tricks and adaptations have contributed to their successful survival. In fact, all 37 species of the cat family behave similarly in the way they hunt, utilizing flexible spines and sharp teeth to catch their prey. No surprise, then, that they are one of the greatest predators since the dinosaurs and are still evolving.

NATURE: The Story of Cats chronicles the 11 million year history of how the most widespread carnivore on the planet evolved, from their roots in ancient rainforests to today’s popular house cat. The latest discoveries by scientists studying their physiology and behaviors are also incorporated into the series.

The first episode, Asia to Africa, shows how the first cats arose in the rainforests of Southeast Asia and moved throughout the continent adjusting to other environments such as high altitudes (snow leopard, Pallas’s cat) and frozen forests (Siberian tigers). The film introduces the most ancient type of cat existing today, the rare clouded leopard, whose genetic blueprint is shared by all cats. Learning how to become ambush predators through play is one of the crucial traits that all young members of the cat family must develop in order to survive in the wild. Cubs of species like the clouded leopard don’t have much time to master these skills before their mother forces them out to find their own territories as solitary predators. It is one of the reasons that around nine million years ago, the ancient tree climbing felines began to fan out all over Asia.

The program explains that a drop in sea level about eight million years ago made Africa accessible via the Red Sea land bridges to the adaptable cats. On the African plains, a keen sense of hearing and an ability to jump high were often necessary attributes for these solo hunters to catch prey. The lion however is the only cat who transitioned from being solitary to living in prides with shared responsibilities and defined roles. Experts theorize that early lions figured out they could hold the best hunting grounds if they worked together. The second episode, Into the Americas, traces how the first cats crossed the Bering Strait land bridge from Asia into North America around nine million years ago, competing for food and territory with the early canida ancestors of wolves and foxes.

But the origins of the most successful cat of all, the domestic house cat, lay in the wildcat’s ability to catch mice attracted by grain stored in villages. They made their way from the Mideast to Europe to America serving the same mouser role on trading ships. The program states that a genetic mutation created the first distinct feline breed, the Siamese cat, in Southeast Asia. People then bred domestic cats for the features they wanted, resulting in more than 40 different types of felines. But although cats are still wild at heart, they may evolve yet again if owners want to reduce the time their pets spend hunting.